On Friday’s episode of Net-Zero Carbon, host Tyler Cole was joined by Matt LeDucq, the CEO of Forum Mobility, to discuss the market opportunities and challenges in drayage fleet electrification.
“This is very much an infrastructure business,” LeDucq said. “At its core, what we are delivering is not terribly unlike delivering a power unit to a utility. In the case of power, you go build a power plant, build megawatt hours to a utility and they buy them. There are all of these permits, construction risks and costs, but at the end of the day you’re just delivering a unit, and that is very similar to what we need to do to make this transition to electric trucking around drayage equally simple for the consumer.”
Forum Mobility builds depots, takes the incentives and capital rolled up into one and delivers fully charged trucks for the operators. But how does it select which carriers to offer services to? A lot of it has to do with both economical and environmental justice.
“There are up to 30-plus-thousand trucks registered in California, and 80% of them are owner-operators,” LeDucq said. “Those are people who run a business and they deserve to run that business. They built it and probably bought those trucks in response to the previous clean-truck rules put in place in 2008 and 2009 in California. From an economic justice standpoint, they deserve a soft landing.
“You can’t smash small businesses with regulations because that is exactly why large capitalized entities win when there is a major transition. And the transition that is happening now is very much acutely [tied] to the large and well-capitalized companies. We are absolutely a commercial enterprise, but there is a mission here to do the right thing by our customers and our biggest customer base is the owner-operator market.”
On the environmental justice side of the equation, solving the air quality problem around the ports is not simple. People that live in areas around the Port of Long Beach have more than a 90% higher likelihood of contracting cancer than those that reside in the broader Los Angeles basin. That makes drayage at the port the perfect solution for Forum to target in order to start to change those numbers.
Forum is dedicated to having between 500 and 600 trucks up and running with charging facilities in the next 18 months in California to get its business on solid ground. From there and into the future, the company strives to have thousands of trucks and facilities to help reduce carbon emissions in the transportation industry.